NBA logo Oct 11, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; A general view of the NBA logo on the stanchion prior to the game between the Charlotte Hornets and the Boston Celtics at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Awful Announcing Wednesday Newsletter is a deep dive into all things sports media with original commentary, highlights from the week, social media buzz, and much more. Below is our “A Block” that leads off the newsletter. You can read this and more by subscribing here. We send a recap of what’s been on AA on Monday and Friday mornings as well as the extended original version on Wednesdays.

The NBA season begins next week and it will be one with a very different soundtrack, especially when it comes to the NBA Finals. Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy are gone from the broadcast table alongside Mike Breen with Doris Burke and Doc Rivers taking their places. ESPN will also again try another new combo for their studio coverage. Meanwhile, the Association will be working on its new rights deals and trying to advance their own products. Oh, and there’s that whole in-season tournament, which should be… interesting, to say the least.

With all that in mind, here’s the biggest media questions for the new NBA season.

5) Will anyone care about the NBA in-season tournament? Adam Silver’s long-term dream of bringing an FA Cup style soccer tournament to the NBA’s regular season is finally a reality. Now that it’s here, will players and fans buy in and treat it as something that matters? It will help that the group play games and quarterfinals double as regular season games so they can’t be dismissed as glorified exhibitions. But on the other hand, the complex structure will make it hard for fans to follow in an already crowded November landscape. It may all come down to whether or not the NBA can create a unique, big-game atmosphere for the neutral site semifinals and final.

4) Will ESPN finally find a successful formula for NBA Countdown? Another year, another makeover for ESPN’s competitor to Inside the NBA. With Mike Greenberg stepping aside, it’s now time for Malika Andrews to take centerstage. She’s joined by usual suspects Mike Wilbon, Stephen A. Smith, Adrian Wojnarowski, and former Warriors GM Bob Myers in his first year with the company. Andrews has had a meteoric rise at ESPN so far and if anyone can saved the cursed Countdown host seat it’s her, but will ESPN actually produce a show that allows this group to develop any chemistry like Andrews has with her daily counterparts at NBA Today?

3) How will the NBA navigate the RSN implosion? With the Bally Sports regional networks bankruptcy still hanging in the balance and many teams potentially affected, the NBA may have to find a path forward during the season. Of course, that’s a nightmare scenario for the league. Teams like the Suns and Jazz have given a possible blueprint for a hybrid over-the-air and direct-to-consumer model. Hopefully for the league’s sake, other teams will be ready to follow in those footsteps or produce their own plans at a moment’s notice.

2) Will ESPN’s new lead crew gel quickly? On their own, Mike Breen, Doc Rivers, and Doris Burke have a long list of accomplishments and broadcast credibility. However, they have one of the longest-tenured championship crews in the history of American sports to follow. What made the Breen-Van Gundy-Jackson trio great was their chemistry and relationships with one another that dated back years. Burke and Rivers are coming to the top NBA booth from totally different backgrounds and while each on their own may bring something to the table, it remains to be seen how well they gel and work together with Breen, who is one of the best ever behind the mic.

1) What will the new NBA media deals look like? The biggest question around the NBA media landscape of course doesn’t deal with this year, but the future of the league. The NBA has been circling a new TV deal for a long time and there are plenty of suitors including incumbents ESPN and WBD, former partners like NBC, and streamers like Amazon or Apple. Given it’s one of the few remaining elite properties up for bid, odds are these media companies are willing to dedicate a good portion of their war chest for rights. Expect the NBA to get what could be one of the last big increases on the market as competition will be intense.

Click here to read more and subscribe to the Awful Announcing Newsletter.